Monday, December 31, 2007

at year's end

There's so much that could be said on the eve of a new beginning. But this is all I have to offer:


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

and what did YOU do...

during YOUR Christmas dinner?

By the end of ours, we had the US leadership team for the next four years sorted out.

The premise was this... get rid of the whole election process that threatens to eat away at our sanity for the next 11 months, and just put 'em all in. Somewhere. Anywhere. Kinda like the interim government in Iraq. And why not? It's not any crazier than our current method!

So without further ado, here is the culminating consensus (yes, sister-in-law Sarah actually wrote the final list on a napkin!) of the lively discussion of nine adults, ranging in age from 19-81, with a little input from red wine and champagne----

President: Ron Paul
Vice-President: Ralph Nader

The Cabinet Secretaries:
Secretary of State: Joe Biden
Attorney General: Rudy Giuliani
Defense: John McCain
The Interior: Cynthia McKinney
Housing and Urban Development: Barack Obama
Health and Human Services: Hillary Clinton
Commerce: Mitt Romney
Education: Fred Thompson
Labor: John Edwards
Energy: Bill Richardson
The Treasury: Chris Dodd
Transportation: Mike Gravel
Veterans Affairs: Duncan Hunter
Agriculture: Mike Huckabee
Homeland Security: Dennis Kucinich

Haven't spent such an enjoyable time over roast beast and mashed potatoes (and with family, no less!) in a long, long time.

If your knowledge or opinion deems a different outcome for one or more of these posts, please, by all means, let me know.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

wish i were here.....

Smoke some good weed (or not), relax in your favorite chair, and enjoy this show!

La Noche de los Rabanos ("Night of the Radishes" for those of you who are illiterate in Spanish-shame on you!) occurs every year in the Zocalo in Oaxaca City, Mexico on December 23rd. Folk artists come from all over the state of Oaxaca to carve elaborate sculptures made entirely from radishes. Local folk and a few turistas wait in line for hours for a chance to see them. The gawking procession around the Zocalo lasts from sundown until the wee hours of the morn, until the last person has had a chance to view the radish extravaganza.

2007 marks the 110th anniversary of this event. John and I were there in 1997 for the 100th. I can honestly say I've never seen anything else like it in the world. It's such a surreal event that even Diego Rivera was moved to capture the essence of it.

More info:
"The radishes are not the little red round ones so prevalent in the United States. They are thick, long and cylindrical, measuring up to 20 inches in length and weighing up to seven pounds each. They grow into contorted shapes with multiple appendages. This grotesque outcome proves inspirational to the carvers, who are often forced to react creatively to what they have at hand. This gives an improvisational feel to many of the works. If the sculptures were music, they would be jazz."

Now if that doesn't prompt you to watch the show, I don't know what would.

I'm not sure how they greet one another on the plaza tonight in Oaxaca, but Happy Radish Night to you all!

Friday, December 21, 2007

it's my favorite night of the year....

and I have nothing to say.

so here's my offering:

You darkness, that I come from,
I love you more than all the fires
that fence in the world,
for the fire makes
a circle of light for everyone,
and then no one outside learns of you.

But the darkness pulls in everything;
shapes and fires, animals and myself,
how easily it gathers them!—
powers and people—

and it is possible a great energy
is moving near me.

I have faith in nights.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Happy Solstice everyone. Here's to the sun's rebirth.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

the story of stuff

This story came to me from three different directions within as many days, so I figured it was a sign. It has a message without being preachy. It's funny and serious simultaneously. What it is, really, is brilliant. Accessible to all.

Anyway.... here is The Story of Stuff.

You may think you have nothing left to learn about how we extract, produce, distribute, consume, and dispose in this country, but watch it anyway. It's 20 minutes well-spent. I promise.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

the ghost of christmas present

I was in a particularly happy and Christmassy mood on Saturday. Our whole family went downtown together, something we very rarely ever do. We did arrive in two cars, however: John and Bennett in one, coming from karate, and Grant and I in another, coming from home. But hey, there was free parking!

We spent time in various parent/son combinations while trying to secretly purchase presents for each other, and then return them to the trunks of our cars (where we didn't have to feed the meter!) Most of my time was spent in The Compleat Gamer, with a nice gentleman who helped me find games that our whole family can play together.

As the sun was slanting westward, Santa came out of a doorway to welcome us into his little brick haven, where he sat on the floor with the boys, showed them his sleigh bells and performed yo-yo tricks. He was the Real Deal. Best of all, there was no one taking photos and trying to sell them to us on mugs or t-shirts or ornaments.

On the corner of Tejon and Boulder, Grant and I stopped and listened to a man playing the guitar and singing.... "Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel, things are going to be much better, if you only will...." (Confession-I love James Taylor, if only because John played and sang "Something in the Way She Moves" while I walked down the aisle at our wedding, but that's another story)

Even though I knew Grant was anxious to get into the toy store, we just paused to listen for awhile. When the song was over, I got out my wallet to give him a buck, only to find out that I had neither cash nor coins.

Grant said, "I have money."

And he wrestled his wallet out of his coat pocket, opened it, dumped some change into the palm of his hand, and placed it in the guitar case. That was the beginning of my "particularly happy and Christmassy mood."

Later, on the corner of Tejon and Bijou, we walked by a blind man in a black overcoat with his hand out. Again, Grant shook some coins into his hand, and bravely walked forward to place them in the man's dirty palm. I know he was a bit frightened, but he didn't hesitate.

I was so proud of him at that moment. I felt the nearly nine years of child rearing paying off, with interest.

Our afternoon was made complete by a late lunch at the newly-opened Heart of Jerusalem Cafe (on Bijou where the Jambo Juice used to be - Go there NOW!). I was prepared to get my supertaster a bagel from around the corner, when I saw that they had chicken nuggets on the menu. Halle-fuckin-lujah! Bennett and I had falafel, John had lamb, Grant had nuggets (again, like Santa, the Real Deal). Everybody happy!

I don't care if the blind man spends the money on booze or if we spent too much money on games or if Santa is a lie or if Tejon is going to go both ways or if free parking is part of a plot to lure shoppers downtown or if Jerusalem (and Colorado Springs, for that matter) is a city fucked up by religion...... (it seems I can't write a truly "happy" story anymore, sorry folks... ) Anyway, the point I'm trying to make (rather feebly at this point, I admit) is that Christmas should make us all slow down, eat good food, spend time with our families, suspend disbelief, go downtown instead of to the mall, and take time to give. Sometimes it's OK, and even necessary, to leave our cynicism behind.

driving to work

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

art teachers first!

Congratulations, Tom Burkle!

Here's why

Sunday, December 9, 2007

the ghost of christmas past

My father left his wife and two kids on Christmas day in 1971. I was four. My brother was ten. In the years that followed, the three of us always celebrated together on Christmas Eve. Christmas day was a solitary but exciting affair, when the one unwrapped present from Santa (and the only toy) arrived under the tree. My mother was never there, under the tree with us, on Christmas morning.

I have absolutely zero memories of Christmas as a family of four, and there are no pictures remaining to help me remember. The memories I do carry with me are the ones my mother tried so desperately, without much money, to create. Upon our arrival home from Christmas Eve service, my mother would light a fire, as well as every last candle in the house, and turn off all the lights. It was like magic to me, this candle-lit time, when the ordinary became mysterious and cast shadows on the wall. My mother, my brother, and I would then gather in the front room to open our presents.

Perhaps it was because there were so few of them, or perhaps it was because there were so few of us, or perhaps it was because my mother was trying to savor these few brief moments of her children's happiness. Whatever the reason, we opened our gifts slowly, one at a time, with reverence. Gifts from our mother were always hand-made items (or necessities), and I'm absolutely certain that my brother and I never rewarded her fully with the joy she had hoped to see on our faces. I have asked her forgiveness for this more times than I can count. If it's any consolation, Mom, I still have my skirt with the elaborately embroidered Holly Hobbie on it, and I know that my brother's giant stuffed brontosaurus still lives somewhere (if only in his mind).

It's only now, as a mother of a seven and eight year old, that I can truly appreciate the sleep she must have sacrificed to get those presents under the tree for us. It's only now that I am grateful that she informed my world not with mounds of material things, but with gifts of time and talent. It's only now that I can see how my sense of tradition has carried over into how I raise my own boys.

And it's only now that I am able to recognize her pain and sorrow behind the candlelight during those years. She could have given in to misery and self-pity every Christmas, but she chose to make it special for us, using her sheer will to make it so.

And I am absolutely certain that this melancholy feeling, along with my desire to overcome it with candlelight and small things and willpower, is something I must have learned from her.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

reason to party

The police helicopter is being grounded next week! As soon as we heard the news, John turned to me and said, deadpan, "We should have a party." Thinking about it. I'll keep you posted.

Last summer, the damn thing flew circles around our neighborhood for hours. Nothing like looking up from your bed through a skylight to see a spotlight shining down on your humid nakedness! Anyway, I'm glad they came to the conclusion that it's simply not cost effective.

The rub? The same one that's happening all over the country: cut the budget (be it for schools, parks, military, whatever), and watch the private companies swoop in like the hawks they are. Look out, folks! Be careful what you wish for.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

r.e.m. nightswimming

because all summers must come to an end